2023: INEC committed to robust voter register clean up
Prof. Yakubu disclosed this in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the five-day Induction Retreat for National Commissioners of INEC in Lagos on Monday.
According to him, the burden to conduct free, fair, credible, acceptable and inclusive elections is upon the commission, hence the need for each commissioners to be ethical and knowledgeable.
He said that the Commission is encouraged by the response of citizens to the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.
On the importance of the retreat, Prof Yakubu, who noted that INEC now had full complement of 12 National Commissioners, said the retreat would afford the new commissioners to learn a lot, especially with the coming to force of the new Electoral Act, 2022.
According to him, the commission has introduced a number of new innovations that it needs to perfect ahead of the general election, hence the need to continuously engage with citizens and stakeholders.
“However, while these innovations and stakeholder engagements are critical to preparations for elections, we should bear in mind that equally critical to the conduct of successful elections is our credibility as election managers: our impartiality, dogged adherence to rules, commitment to the sanctity of the ballot and sound knowledge of the electoral process.
“This retreat is important, especially coming shortly after we released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election in which party primaries are scheduled to commence next week and end in the first week of June, that is between April 4 and June,” he added.
He reassured Nigerians of INEC’s commitment to credible polls in 2023, saying that the commission had concluded work on the Strategic Plan 2022-2026 and Election Project Plan for the 2023 General Election.
He said that in the recent bye-elections in six constituencies in four states of the federation across four geo-political zones, the BVAS functioned optimally in rural, sub-urban and urban areas of Cross River, Imo, Ondo and Plateau.
The INEC chairman said that the commission received no complaints from voters and no reports of glitches from observers in these bye-elections.
He said that INEC would continue to perfect the system in the forthcoming bye-elections and the end of tenure governorship elections in Ekiti on June 18 and Osun State on July 16.
Contibuting, INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Mr Festus Okoye, said that the training became important because some of the new national commissioners were coming from different backgrounds and walks of life.
“It is important for them to know the workings of the commission and ethical issues.
“We have no time to waste, they need to move to the states where they supervise to get acquainted with the operations of the commission especially at the state and the local government levels,” Okoye said.
In his goodwill message, Mr Seray Jah, Nigeria Country Director, International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) said that since 1998, IFES had remained a strategic partner with INEC and had offered technical support on key areas.
He said that IFES had supported in strategic planning, election project plans, electoral operations, the inclusion of marginalised groups and technically training on core electoral thematic areas, saying the collaboration had positively contributed to INEC’s ability to conduct credible elections.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos State, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, said that INEC as the gate-keeper of democracy could not but be seen to always be striving to surpass the standard it had set for itself over time.
Agbaje said: “Though we may feel (and correctly so) that we are still in the Green Zone of preparations for next year’s polls, we may soon discover that time is no longer on our side if the right things are not done at the right time.
“Election management is now a knowledge-based ventures.”